Hyundai and Kia announce plans to mass produce electric vehicles

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Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia announced that they’ll be mass producing “limited production” of electric vehicles starting in 2022. Although the two manufacturers said the move was meant to lead toward the increased deployment of electrified vehicles on their roads, they pointed to the looming ban on the sale of gasoline-fueled vehicles in Europe and China as a reason to break into the market now.

Earlier this year, the companies said they were aiming to produce more than 50 plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles by 2020. This marks a major shift away from the system they’ve been using for decades. During their CES presentation, Hyundai and Kia executives said the cars will start appearing at dealerships by 2025.

A recent survey found that 54 percent of people polled had owned and driven a hybrid or electric vehicle in the past year. Those numbers are up by 17 percent in the United States, 17 percent in South Korea, and 33 percent in France.

During the panel discussion, Hyundai Vice Chairman Kim Dong-hyun said the key to bringing electric vehicles to market had become “the realization that the world is going electric.” Kia’s U.S. chief executive, James Choi, said people wanted the company to make “innovative smart cars.” In early January, he added, he met with the CEO of one of Hyundai’s biggest competitors in electric vehicles, Honda, and said they were doing so “for the right reasons.”

One big challenge for automakers that go electric right now is public awareness. Getting consumers and car-buyers to know the difference between a vehicle that has a little battery on board and one that has a big battery on board can be a bit of a challenge. Hybrid technology does the trick, but simply having a Chevy Bolt in a dealer’s lot does little to help draw attention to the fact that those are less powerful than regular gasoline-fueled vehicles.

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